VATICAN CITY — It takes courage and boldness to trust in God’s promises and follow the vocation he has set out for you, Pope Francis said in a message for the World Day of Prayer for Vocations, released Saturday.
“Responding to the Lord’s call involves putting ourselves on the line and facing a great challenge. It means being ready to leave behind whatever would keep us tied to our little boat and prevent us from making a definitive choice,” the Pope said March 9.
“We are called to be bold and decisive in seeking God’s plan for our lives,” he continued. “Gazing out at the vast ‘ocean’ of vocation, we cannot remain content to repair our nets on the boat that gives us security, but must trust instead in the Lord’s promise.”
“Every vocation is a summons not to stand on the shore, nets in hand, but to follow Jesus on the path he has marked out for us, for our own happiness and for the good of those around us.”
Pope Francis’ message was released in advance of the 56th World Day of Prayer for Vocations, which will be celebrated on May 12. This year’s theme is “The Courage to Take a Risk for God’s Promise.”
In his message, the Pope reflected on the passage from the Gospel of Mark, when Jesus calls Simon, Andrew, James and John to be his disciples.
At the time, the two pairs of brothers were going about their daily work as fishermen, Francis explained, noting that fishing is demanding work that sometimes produces results and sometimes does not.
“Much of life is like that,” he said. Each person, in trying to realize his or her deepest desires, puts out into a “‘sea’ of possibilities” and “sometimes we enjoy a good catch, while at others, we need courage to keep our boat from being tossed by the waves or we are frustrated at seeing our nets come up empty.”
But, he emphasized, the Gospel is about an encounter with a Person, Jesus Christ. “That day, by the sea of Galilee, Jesus drew near to those fishermen … and he immediately made them a promise: ‘I will make you fishers of men.’”
This is how God calls each person: through an invitation, he explained. “The Lord’s call is not an intrusion of God in our freedom. … On the contrary, it is the loving initiative whereby God encounters us and invites us to be part of a great undertaking. He opens before our eyes the horizon of a greater sea and an abundant catch.”
Francis also noted the importance of a person’s vocation not just in his or her life, but for the community and for the growth of God’s kingdom on earth.
“These vocations make us bearers of a promise of goodness, love and justice, not only for ourselves, but also for our societies and cultures, which need courageous Christians and authentic witnesses of the kingdom of God,” he said.
On the coming World Day of Prayer for Vocations, he concluded, “let us join in prayer and ask the Lord to help us discover his plan of love for our lives and to grant us the courage to walk in the path that, from the beginning, he has chosen for each of us.”